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The World Beneath Paperback – February 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press, Black Cat; Original edition (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802170714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802170712
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,047,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Australian Kennedy's (Dark Roots) chick friendly debut novel, 15-year-old anorexic Sophie Reynolds comes of age in a fast-paced, well-observed study of family relationships. Sophie's mother, former hippie Sandy, trundles toward middle age with hennaed hair and a flagging jewelry business. Then Rich, Sophie's father, reappears to offer a week-long backpacking trip in Tasmania that Sophie sees as an opportunity to bond with her mysterious father, annoy her mother, and indulge her obsession with rigorous exercise. Rich, a deadbeat dad with a dead-end job, hopes to impress his wayward daughter with fancy hiking gear and borrowed music. But when he strays from the path without a map, stalking the perfect photo, he endangers them both. With Rich and Sophie missing, Sandy is forced to re-examine her life: her criticizing mother; her festering resentment of Rich; and her friends, who enjoy crises more than company. The pitfalls of nostalgia and the disappointment of everyday life contrast sharply with the ravishing Tasmanian landscapes Kennedy is excellent at painting, along with interpersonal terrain, but the novel wants to be more profound than it actually is. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Rich and Sandy endlessly relive the high point of their lives when they were part of a successful environmental protest movement some 25 years ago. But things have not gone well for them since. Rich left the marriage after the birth of their daughter and has been on the run ever since, finally acknowledging that the decades have gone by with not much to show for them. Hapless Sandy has struggled to make a living fashioning handmade jewelry and attempting to sell it at crafts fairs. Their teenage daughter, Sophie, has morphed from a happy toddler into a sullen goth with a serious eating disorder. Then Rich proposes that he and Sophie take a wilderness hike in Tasmania as a way of reconnecting. While Sandy spends the week at a retreat attempting to get in touch with her inner goddess, Rich and Sophie find themselves in the outback severely unprepared for the arduous climb and inclement weather. In elegant, fluidly written prose, Kennedy not only delivers scathing portraits of the ineffectual adults and the times that shaped them but also makes the epic wilderness another vividly rendered character in the story. A gripping debut. --Joanne Wilkinson

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Body dysmorphic, both prematurely cynical and angst-riddled, Sophie daily endures the mindless chatter of her mother, Sandy, appalled by the prospect of genetically flabby arms in her own future. Sandy and Rich split shortly after her birth fifteen years ago, their environmental activism on behalf of Tasmania's Franklin River collapsing under the inertia of cohabitation. Now Rich has reappeared, suggesting a backpacking trip in Tasmania so father and daughter can bridge the years he has been absent from Sophie's life. Australian author Kennedy is fully armed in this provocative novel of disillusioned youth and mid-life attack of conscience, an emo goth teen on the cusp of understanding too much about parents' imperfections and a boy/man clinging to the temporary glory of a cause, their careful self-constructions shattered by breath-stopping reality.

While Sandy attends a Goddess workshop, forever struggling to recapture the euphoria of the Franklin River experience, a vague dissatisfaction hobbles the day-to-day rewards of existence, overwhelmed as she is with the burden of single parenthood, her body buffeted by gravity's siren song and Sophie's critical lamentation: "That's what having a baby did to your body... like balloons that had been stretched to the limit...then gradually left to deflate again... like overripe fruit." But not to worry, for Rich fares no better, his responses inconsistent, from his original impression ("She looked like one of those Bratz dolls.") to the more confessional "He wonders why, of everything, her tenderness is the very worst thing." His observant daughter quickly assesses the nature of a man on the wrong side of time with a habit of inflating global adventures, but inarticulate in the matter of fathers and daughters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ann Donoghoe on August 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well written. Excellent character development. Enjoyed every word. Waiting for Cate's next novel - her style is gutsy and has depth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By GerhardS on March 27, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
I bought this book for a book club. Our discussions usually centre on the aspects of the book we did not like. We never go on about the positive attributes of the book, unless its to counter a criticism. This book prompted the shortest discussion ever for our book club - we all loved it. I bought it for the story of the Overland Track, as I like books that at least touch on some experience or interest of mine, and I had done the walk. That aspect was fabulous, but you don't need to have even heard of the walk to appreciate the book. I hate shopping, but the description of Rich shopping for gear for the walk got me just as much as the walk. The characters were fabulous: flawed, funny, believable. This is a "must read." Given the family dynamic, and the emo daughter, I'm keen for my daughter to read it - will the younger generation appreciate this as much as I did?

Added much later: My 21 year old daughter has now read the book - loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kopriva on June 5, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The opening chapter, told from the point of view of an extremely annoying disillusioned single mother of a teenager, a one-time environmental activist who spends a lot of time feeling sorry for herself, almost put me off the whole book. Cate Kennedy follows her thought processes so realistically, you might think she agrees with the sentiments the woman expresses. Then we get equally convincing chapters from the point of view of the estranged husband and of the teenage daughter.

The father's machismo and stupidity during the gruelling overland trek through the Tasmanian wilderness that he 'fought to protect' is particularly cringe-worthy. He is trying to prove himself to a daughter he barely knows and fails spectacularly. The daughter has issues of her own, but rises to the occasion when the get into trouble. Meanwhile the mother is at a retreat trying to 'find herself' and failing in a hilarious fashion. In spite of these failures, nothing terrible happens and there is even a smidgen hope for the future at the end.
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By Rebecca S on May 2, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was an ok story, I was too young to remember the Franklin dam protests in Tassie, and I think if I did it would enhance the story.
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